Ban on electronic devices in cabins: Singapore travellers say they may shun affected airports

Passengers open their luggage and show their electronic equipment at security point at the Ataturk Airport, in Istanbul, Turkey.
Passengers open their luggage and show their electronic equipment at security point at the Ataturk Airport, in Istanbul, Turkey.PHOTO: EPA

Unhappy Singapore travellers say they would rather avoid blacklisted airports than be forced to check in their laptops, tablets and other large electronic devices.

Reacting to restrictions imposed by the United States and Britain on flights from certain airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, travellers here said the ban does not make sense.

The airports affected by the US ban include those in Dubai, home of Emirates; Qatar, where Qatar Airways is headquartered; and Abu Dhabi, where Etihad Airways is based. All three carriers are popular with travellers, including those from Singapore who travel long haul to the US and Europe.

Polytechnic lecturer Gary Ho, 42, who visits the US three or four times a year, said: "It is utter nonsense and really makes me wonder why we bother with all the security procedures already in place. They already make you open your bag, take out your laptop and sometimes turn it on, so what is the point of all that if it cannot detect wrongdoing?"

Mr Sim Kok Chwee, 56, who works in the logistics sector, said: "We should be focusing on upgrading security equipment and processes to enable more effective checks instead of inconveniencing travellers like this.

"Laptops and other such equipment are not cheap, and if you have seen the way checked-in bags are sometimes thrown around, you would not want to check them in. On top of that, there is always the risk of theft. So who will be responsible?"

Associate professor of communication Banu Akdenizli of Northwestern University's campus in Doha said the ban would affect her ability to work during a 20-hour flight to North Carolina for a conference next month. She told The New York Times: "I think, as an academic or any business traveller, the function of a work flight is to be able to work on it."

Like it or not, the new restrictions will have to be followed, experts said. For those travelling from Singapore to the US or Britain via the affected airports, laptops and other affected gadgets must be checked in at Changi.

A spokesman for Qatar Airways said it has started informing passengers at Changi about the new rules when they check in.

Karamjit Kaur

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore travellers say they may shun affected airports'. Print Edition | Subscribe